5 Things to Look for When Choosing a Research University for Graduate Studies

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Updated August 4, 2020

What to Look For When Choosing a Research University

  • Do Your Research
  • Seek Out Support
  • Discover the Opportunities
  • Look at Location
  • Find Your Funding

Earning your research doctorate fulfills your education at the highest level. Whether you pursue your PhD in an academic discipline or in a professional field, here are five important points to look for when choosing a research university for your graduate studies.

Resource: 50 Best Graduate Research Institutes

1. Do Your Research

As important as choosing your research topic for your PhD, it is equally vital to take time to find which university best fits your specialization. While there are plenty of reputable PhD programs available, not all of them will fit your specific field of study. Start by talking to your undergraduate professors to get their advice. Also, find out where the respected leaders in your field earned their doctoral degrees. Once you start narrowing down the list of schools, schedule a visit to your top five universities. In the end, you will save a lot of time and money with filling out applications and sending in the appropriate fees.

2. Seek Out Support

Take a close look at what kind of support each school offers. Your exploration can include visiting the research labs, talking to the current graduate students and speaking with potential graduate advisors. In addition, you should look into colleges that offer academic support for writing scientific papers and grant proposals. Unless you are already an expert on formal writing, finding help to develop your professional writing skills is equally important in choosing a research university.

3. Discover the Opportunities

When you are taking a look at the faculty and the doctoral programs offered at different universities, also examine which colleges have internships and joint research opportunities available. Even though you will be completing a lot of intense research on your own, collaborative projects with professors can significantly enhance your educational experience. You might also be asked to help coauthor your research findings or help with presentations at professional lectures. On top of that, find out if there are teaching positions open to help offset the cost of your PhD program. Overall, excellent doctoral programs offer plenty of opportunities to make the most of your education.

4. Look at Location

While location may not be on the top of your list in choosing a PhD program, it may help narrow your options. Most doctoral programs will take four or more years to complete, so being comfortable with your surroundings is important. For instance, do you prefer to be in a city environment to have access to industry professionals or cultural events? On the other hand, does your research require you to be near the beach or mountains? Perhaps being near your family is important to you. Even though you will be spending a considerable amount of time at the library or in the laboratory, you will still have a life outside of college. For this reason, location should be one of your considerations.

5. Find Your Funding

If a specific university is fully funding your research, you probably have already decided where to earn your PhD. However, most graduate students need to find a way to fund their advanced degree. Check around for funding opportunities or scholarships offered by your top university choices. You can also look into government grants or outside financial assistance specifically designed for your field of study.

With so many respected PhD programs available, it is important to know where to begin your search. If you keep in mind what is important to you and your future career, you will be well on your way to finding the best doctoral research program for you.

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